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Treasurer foreshadows bad economic news

ELEANOR HALL: But first to the economy and the Government appears to be preparing Australians for
bad news when the national accounts are released this week.

The Treasurer Wayne Swan warned today that the collapse of output among Australia's major trading
partners will have a dramatic impact on our economic growth.

Forecasts by market economists suggest the economy either grew at a very slow pace or went
backwards in the final three months of last year.

Joining us to discuss this is our economics correspondent Stephen Long

So Stephen, does Wayne Swan know something that we don't?

STEPHEN LONG: I'm sure he does about something Eleanor, but whether he's actually signalling
through his statements today that the economy is going to go backwards is impossible to say. The
Treasurer gets some advance notice but not this much advance notice of what the national accounts
do show.

He's clearly managing expectations and letting the public know that the growth figures are not
going to be good, whether they're slightly up or whether they actually do go backwards, and what
he's saying is actually a statement of fact that seven out of 10 of Australia's major trading
partners are in recession.

Japanese economic growth in particular had collapsed going backwards at 13 per cent a year and I
was actually with Wayne Swan last week and I showed him a print out on the figures for Japanese
exports which were down 45 per cent and I must say he looked slightly pale when he saw it.

And there was further bad news out of America on the weekend as Wayne Swan alerted people to this
morning. Have a listen to what he had to say.

WAYNE SWAN: We've seen further evidence of a dramatic contraction in US growth over the weekend.
We've seen growth in the December quarter revised from minus one to minus 1.6, which means on an
annualised basis, it's gone from minus 3.8 to minus 6.2.

Now this comes on top of dramatic contractions in growth in Japan, other countries in the Asian
region. We've now got a situation where something like seven out of our top 10 trading partners are
in recession and this will have a dramatic impact on growth in Australia in the December quarter.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Treasurer Wayne Swan. Now Stephen, in Canberra the national accounts are
being talked about as an indication about whether or not the pre-Christmas stimulus package is
working. Can you judge the stimulus package on that basis?

STEPHEN LONG: Well I suppose it depends on what expectations you place on the stimulus package but
really it's a big ask to say that the stimulus package can transform the state of the economy given
the headwinds from overseas.

We do know that it will have made a positive contribution to growth because that was evident from
the retail trade figures in December which spiked upwards in the month, but will that mean that
it's made a positive contribution overall and helped rescue the Australian economy?

Well that's allowed a rundown of inventories by retailers and maybe a short term boost to jobs, it
doesn't say anything one way or another going forward. So, I don't think you can judge the stimulus
package as a success or failure on the basis of these figures overall because the main impact is
going to be the fact that so many nations overseas are in recession and we're being buffeted by

ELEANOR HALL: So what is the risk that we'll find out on Wednesday that Australia is in recession?

STEPHEN LONG: It is possible that Australia will be in what some economists use as a technical
definition of recession but only if they revise down the figures for the previous three months to
the December quarter because they were just slightly positive. But in a sense all this is moot.

In America they don't even use that test, they look at a broader set of indicators about
consumption and unemployment and various other factors in the economy and we all know that they're
looking pretty bad.

I mean, what you see around you says that the economy is in a bad way but also these are backward
looking figures, and the figures that Wayne Swan alerted to earlier about growth, they are all more
recent. We're talking about a hit in December, January to our major trading partners and export
markets, well that will be feeding into growth in the next quarter and the quarter after that.

So now it's a question of whether the stimulus and the rate cuts can counter that big hit to growth
from overseas and I'd say they'll have an uphill battle.

ELEANOR HALL: Well what does the collapse in economic growth due to Australia's major trading
partners do to Treasury forecasts for the economy?

STEPHEN LONG: Well I would say that it means the forecasts we got in February, the updated fiscal
and economic outlook is dead in the water.

Pretty much the estimate of what the Budget shortfall will be over the forward estimates, and also
the projections that we would continue with one per cent growth this year, three quarters of a per
cent next year, it would be hard to imagine that they aren't being revised down internally within
the Treasury and indeed my understanding is that they are preparing for an extended downturn that
will hit the Budget over the long haul.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen Long our economics correspondent, thank you.

Inflation surge likely to temper rate cuts

ELEANOR HALL: Well despite the warnings from the Treasurer, economists are now revising down their
expectations of an interest rate cut tomorrow as new evidence points to rising inflation.

A monthly inflation gauge by TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute rose again last month after
an earlier surge in January.

It now has annual inflation running at 3.1 per cent, that's just above the Reserve Bank's (RBA)
target range.

And while this doesn't necessarily mean that the inflation genie is out of the bottle again, some
economists say the surge will force the RBA to keep rates on hold tomorrow.

TD Securities senior strategist Josh Williamson spoke to our business editor Peter Ryan.

JOSH WILLIAMSON: One of the main drivers we've seen this month, as we have seen over the last 12
months, has been petrol. Petrol prices are very volatile; they have had a significant impact on the
overall headline result.

But what we are seeing though is the Net Balance Statistic, that is the statistic that records the
number of price rises over price falls, still remains elevated and that tells us that inflation in
a broad sense is not falling or decelerating by as much as we initially thought it would and
there's a little bit of resilience left there in prices.

PETER RYAN: Given that this is the biggest back to back increase in the inflation gauge, is it fair
to say the inflation genie is crawling out of the bottle?

JOSH WILLIAMSON: No I don't think the inflation genie is out of the bottle, but we're having a
little more problems squeezing him back in.

PETER RYAN: So how worried should the Reserve Bank be about where inflation is heading?

JOSH WILLIAMSON: Well I think given the fact about what we know about what's happening in the
global economy and the fact that the Australian economy is slowing quite markedly, they shouldn't
be too concerned about an inflation, but it's the pace of inflation or the pace of disinflation
that may be a little bit concerning.

But the fact is, there are some residual price pressures there and we think what this is going to
mean for the Reserve Bank is that they're more likely to keep interest rates we think on hold when
they actually meet tomorrow, rather than continue those aggressive easings or cuttings that we've
seen over the last five months.

PETER RYAN: So we've seen the Reserve Bank really have the inflation fear on the backburner because
of the global economic crisis but it could be edging its way back to the top of the agenda?

JOSH WILLIAMSON: Well that's right, global considerations have been paramount because we do have a
recession in most industrialised economies around the world, we've got a global financial crisis as
well, but we think the lags or the time taken for those impacts to affect the Australian economy
has taken longer than a lot of analysts actually have expected and I think this is showing up in
the inflation data that we're seeing.

I don't think it's a question of us seeing lower inflation and indeed much weaker economic growth,
it's just that the time taken for that to occur is taking longer than expected and I think that's
showing up in the inflation readings we're seeing today.

PETER RYAN: Given your prediction that the Reserve Bank will stay on the sidelines tomorrow, do you
still think though that there will be further deeper cuts later in the year?

JOSH WILLIAMSON: I think there will be further cuts, I don't think they'll be deeper cuts, I think
what the Reserve Bank will do is actually reduce the magnitude of each cut, so say between 25 to 50
basis points rather than 75 to 100 that we've gotten used to over the last couple of months, but
they will still need to cut rates further.

The Australian economy, if it's not there already, will be entering a recession probably in the
first half of 2009 and that will require further cuts in order to sort of mitigate or minimise the
worst of that.

PETER RYAN: So keeping their powder dry?


PETER RYAN: The Treasurer Wayne Swan has warned this morning that growth in the last quarter of
2008 was seriously affected by the global downturn. Do you think those comments could influence the
Reserve Bank's thinking on interest rates when they sit down tomorrow?

JOSH WILLIAMSON: The Reserve Bank has been relatively more optimistic on Australia's economic
performance and their expected economic performance this year than many other analyst and
indicators would suggest, so I don't think what Wayne Swan has said would influence the Reserve

ELEANOR HALL: That's TD Securities senior strategist Josh Williamson speaking to business editor
Peter Ryan.

Defence Minister orders independent audit of SAS pay

ELEANOR HALL: The Defence Minister has ordered his department to open its books to a team of
independent auditors as he attempts to get to the bottom of the SAS pay bungle.

And angry Joel Fitzgibbon admitted in Parliament last week that he couldn't say how many soldiers
were affected and he expressed his frustration that despite two directives to fix the problem, it
remains unresolved.

So far it's been the Defence Chiefs who've been forced to publicly explain what's gone wrong.

But now the focus has shifted to the defence bureaucracy which administers the military's finances.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Having directed Defence twice to fix the pay dispute which has seen SAS soldiers
hit with debt recovery after the payment of new allowances and the problem still festering, the
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has called in a team of independent auditors to get to the bottom
of it.

The Minister's pointing the finger at his department, signalling a testy relationship between the

JOEL FITZGIBBON: My department, frustratingly for me and of course it made me very angry, was
unable to tell me with any accuracy whatsoever how many people had been affected by this debacle,
so I did the honest thing.

I think people are sick of political spin and counter political attack and I simply told the truth,
that is that my department has been unable to tell me how many people have been affected by this
series of events.

But here's the even more frustrating thing, I was able to tell the parliament that my directive was
followed, but my department isn't able to absolutely guarantee me because of the antiquated nature
and the untidiness of both the ICT system and the payroll system, that you know, no soldier could
possibly still be having money deducted as a result of the implementation of the tribunal's

ALEXANDRA KIRK: At a time when the minister is trying to save some money, he's had to spend some
more to fix the problem that first came to light last October.

The World Today understands the Defence department has to present the minister with its plan to
implement his latest order as a matter of urgency as he sets about fixing the problem permanently.

Having spent last week under intense pressure from the Opposition, weekend newspapers reported
soldiers are still having money deducted from their pay.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: I'm going to send that auditing firm in to have a look at the pays of all special
forces soldiers so I have an independent source of advice, and then I can finally determine once
and for all what's going on, whether indeed my directive to stop recovery has been effective or not

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Joel Fitzgibbon has openly expressed his anger, frustration and disappointment and
there's no end in sight yet.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: It makes me very angry as minister, last week in the Parliament when this issue
first arose again, I should have been able to pick up the phone to my department and say ok, how
many people? What have we done on this? Has my directive been followed? How many people are
affected? How much money is still owing? How much money is involved in total? But they've simply
not been able to give me those answers.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The World Today sought an interview with the Secretary of the Department of Defence
Nick Warner, but his office has indicated he's unavailable because he's in a series of meetings and
then travelling.

The Opposition's Defence spokesman, David Johnston, isn't easing off the pressure on the minister
despite Mr Fitzgibbon's homing in on the Defence bureaucracy.

DAVID JOHNSTON: I really do not care about what is happening in terms of audits and the legislative
background and all of that. When I raised this is October, I did it because I wanted to see these
soldiers properly paid without incurring massive debts that they were having difficulty paying.

Now, no one's interested in these audits, the minister should just fix the problem.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: With respect though, the coalition when it was in government faced a similar
problem I think in 2004/2005 in terms of the pay of soldiers. So clearly it's a long standing
problem that hasn't been fixed. So do you have some sympathy then for a government which is trying
to fix it?

DAVID JOHNSTON: I have no sympathy whatsoever for this minister, having given him a free kick in
October and not raising it again until February thinking that it would be resolved.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But didn't the coalition try to fix the problem as well? And failed clearly because
it still remains a problem.

DAVID JOHNSTON: We did not have SAS soldiers with $30,000 and $50 000 debts having money taken from
their pay retrospectively without notice. We didn't have that problem.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So do you agree now that the problem rests with the Defence department, which
administers the military's finances, rather than those in uniform?

DAVID JOHNSTON: I reckon the problem has always rested at the feet of any earnest, responsible,
good minister and he's dropped the ball repeatedly on this subject.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you think that an independent audit team has the potential to fix the problem

DAVID JOHNSTON: Into the future that's a good thing to do. Into the future it is good to find out
what has gone on, what's wrong with PMKeyS, what's wrong with the department, all of those things
are good, but as long as we have men who are getting bills that haven't had the situation
rectified, I'm firstly concerned about them.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Senator David Johnston, he's the Opposition's Defence spokesman. Alexandra
Kirk with our report.

Rio deal won't lead to Chinese control of local resources, says Chinalco

ELEANOR HALL: Executives from Chinese aluminium producer Chinalco will meet members of the Foreign
Investment Review Board (FIRB) this afternoon to discuss the company's plan to take a nearly
$30-billion dollar stake in Rio Tinto.

This morning Chinalco's new president briefed the media and was at pains to stress that the deal
was beneficial for Rio Tinto shareholders and for Australia more generally.

Rio Tinto investors have expressed their opposition to the proposal which would see Chinalco take
stakes in key assets like the giant Hamersley Iron operation in Western Australia.

Finance reporter Sue Lannin has been at the Chinalco briefing and joins us now.

So Sue, what did Chinalco's CEO have to say?

SUE LANNIN: Well Xiong Weiping was, as you said, at pains to stress that this was a good deal.
There was lots of Aodaliya, now that's Mandarin for Australia, he very much was emphasizing that he
thought the deal was good for Rio Tinto, good for Rio Tinto shareholders.

He said he believed that it would help Rio with its debt problems, as we know Rio Tinto's got a
debt of around US$40 billion, that's because of its decision to takeover Alcan.

Now Xiong Weiping said he was hopeful the FIRB will approve the transaction. He was asked what
happens if FIRB imposes conditions, he was very non-committal about that and said that they did not
want to change the deal as it is.

Now as we said, a nearly $30-billion stake Chinalco will take, and that means it will have stakes
in key assets; Hamersley Iron as we've said but also Weipa and also BHP Billiton's big copper mine,
Escondida in Chile.

ELEANOR HALL: So does this mean that Chinalco would be able have a greater influence over the
prices of commodities like iron ore to the detriment of Australian firms?

SUE LANNIN: Yes, well Mr Xiong was asked about that at the media conference. He said that in cases
of product pricing there would be a conflict of interest committee set up, Rio Tinto would set up
the committee, Chinalco executives would not sit on that committee, they would stand down from any
decision that would influence product pricing, that would influence sales of , say, stakes further
stakes in Rio Tinto. So he was trying to reassure people that Chinalco would not be able to
influence prices of key commodities.

Now he was also, I actually asked him whether there were any plans to on sell parts of Chinalco's
stake in Rio Tinto to other state owned enterprises. He said there were no plans to do that as yet,
but he did say that could be possible in the future, he saw that as a normal commercial

Now he also had a lot to say about commodity prices. He thinks the long term prospects are good but
the short term is not so good.

XIONG WEIPING (translated): We remain confident in the long term prospects of Rio Tinto and the
prospect of achieving a long term return through this investment. However, we must say that there
is no point in staying here yet, for in terms of the economic situation globally and the global
mining sector remain in a very volatile situation.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Xiong Weiping the president of Chinalco speaking through a translator. Our
finance reporter Sue Lannin at the briefing there.

New book sheds more light on Kennedy assassination

ELEANOR HALL: It has spawned countless conspiracy theories and, almost half a century on, there's
still enormous secrecy surrounding it.

The 1963 assassination of US president John F Kennedy has been blamed on the CIA, Fidel Castro, the
mafia, even president Lynden Johnson; an Oliver Stone film fanned speculation about government
involvement in the killing, and there are still millions of documents relating to the President's
death that have never been released.

Now, new research into the assassination reveals that there certainly was a massive government
cover-up, but not because the government was trying to protect those responsible for the shooting.

Lamar Waldron's book Legacy of Secrecy is about to be released in Australia and a short time ago I
spoke to the author from his home in Georgia:

ELEANOR HALL: Lamar Waldron, who killed JFK?

LAMAR WALDRON: Well the Mafia godfather, Carlos Marcello, is one of several who made actually a
very credible confession to JFK's murder. And Carlos Marcello told an FBI informant back in 1985
that he had not only ordered JFK's murder but he had even met with Lee Harvey Oswald, and Marcello
even told the FBI informant that he had set up Jack Ruby in business in Dallas and that Jack Ruby
was his man in Dallas.

But of course there has been so much government secrecy about JFK's murder, people are only
learning about it now, but the book also explains why there has been so much government secrecy in
the past and why a lot of that government secrecy even continues today.

ELEANOR HALL: Well it's very interesting, you analysis shows there certainly was a government cover
up, but not because the government was trying to protect those responsible for the shooting. So why
did people at the highest levels of government conspire to prevent a full investigation of the

LAMAR WALDRON: Well people often forget that the Kennedy assassination occurred just one year after
that tense nuclear standoff during the Cuban Missile crisis. And so the reason that Bobby Kennedy,
the president's own brother - who was our attorney-general at the time, the top law enforcement
official in the US -Bobby Kennedy worked with people he didn't like very much, like the FBI
director, J. Edgar Hoover and the new president, Belinda Johnson, they all had to kind of work
together to cover up a lot of information about JFK's murder, to prevent world war III and that's
because the Mafia had planted phoney evidence pointing to Fidel Castro.

So it was simply the matter that if too much was investigated or became public too quickly, that
could have called for a US attack against Cuba, and there's a big reason that the book reveals in
great detail that Bobby Kennedy knew that Fidel might have been mad at the US - he actually wasn't
but could have been - and that's because John and Robert Kennedy were getting ready to overthrow
Fidel Castro, stage a coup against Fidel Castro.

That was planned for just 10 days after Dallas. The Mafia had been barred from that coup plan and
in fact John and Robert Kennedy were waging the biggest war against the Mafia that America had ever
seen and has ever seen.

But even though the Mafia was barred from the coup plan, Marcello and his associates managed to
learn about it and they were able to actually take parts of the secret coup plan and use those
parts of that plan against JFK. So even the bullet found in Osmond's rifle had been linked to this
top secret coup plan.

ELEANOR HALL: So do you think the Mafia was doing this deliberately in order to make sure that
there was no clear investigation of who was behind the assassination?

LAMAR WALDRON: More than that, I think the Mafia actually had hoped that the US would go ahead and
invade Cuba because obviously if we're at war with Cuba that's going to make it even more difficult
to hold a thorough investigation.

So the Mafia got much of what they wanted - JFK was killed, Bobby's war against the Mafia was
essentially ended - but they didn't get everything; the US did not go ahead and invade Cuba, cooler
heads prevailed, but the resulting secrecy has had a tragic effect on the United States ever since.

We have the actual story from the people who actually worked on this plan with John and Robert
Kennedy, worked on the secrecy, helped control the autopsy. But again all for the good of the
country and in fact that is a term that would be used with officials when they would be pressured
to change their testimony to the Warren Commission.

They would say, 'well you can't say what you really saw for the good of the country.' So you know
we did actually avoid world war III, and that's a good thing, but that secrecy continues to dog the
US even today.

And these Kennedy officials who had been in the limousine right behind JFK clearly saw the shots
from the grassy knoll, were pressured to change their testimony and they did so.

ELEANOR HALL: You mentioned the grassy knoll, there was so much evidence that there were shots from
the grassy knoll, why was it so important to the government that the single shooter theory be

LAMAR WALDRON: The reason that the government actually focussed on just Oswald and didn't want to
go beyond Oswald, they actually didn't want to dig too deeply into Oswald because if there was
clearly more than one shooter, then that would raise questions - well it couldn't have been a lone
nut who fired a magic bullet, there had to be someone else involved and the obvious suspect would
have been somebody related to Fidel Castro.

And what most readers will find for the first time, and your listeners will hear for the first
time, Dallas was not the first time they had tried to kill JFK. They had tried three weeks earlier
in Chicago, again phoney evidence planted pointing towards Fidel, JFK had to cancel his entire
Chicago motorcade at the last minute and then the Mafia tried to kill JFK again just four days
before Dallas in Florida.

So you couldn't let that kind of information come out.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think that if Bobby Kennedy and say Richard Helms had known then how their
actions would protect the mob, that they would still have covered up to the extent that they did?

LAMAR WALDRON: Well imagine poor Bobby Kennedy on the afternoon of his brother's murder, he's just
spent the morning meeting with his Mafia prosecutors and by the way, one of those prosecutors who's
been a very big supporter of the book and has written globally about it because it fits with what
he knew.

So Bobby had been plotting his strategy against Carlos Marcello and the Mafia family in Tampa in
Chicago that morning and he's at lunch in his Virginia mansion that afternoon and he's expecting
that in 10 days Fidel Castro is going to be eliminated, assassinated in an open jeep in Cuba and
that the head of the Cuban army will have arranged that, will have blamed Fidel's assignation on a
Russian or a Russian sympathiser and then this man, the head of the Cuban army, Commander Juan
Almeida will invite US forces in to help prevent Soviet takeover and this will all lead to eventual
free elections and a democratic government in Cuba.

That's what Bobby's expecting and instead he hears that his own brother has been killed in an open
car in Dallas and then he hears that somebody, seemingly with a Cuba connection, has been arrested
for it. And so Bobby quickly realised that somehow his plan had been compromised and Bobby by the
way was the leading official on the coup plan. And so Bobby knew quickly that something had
happened with this but he also knew that this could not come out at all or it could mean world war

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations could have been
prevented had the JFK investigation gone ahead without constraint?

LAMAR WALDRON: Most definitely and completely, that's completely true in the case Martin Luther
King, because Carlos Marcello was later involved in brokering the contract on the murder of Martin
Luther King for a white supremacist because Marcello and this white supremacist here in Georgia
were basically allowed to stay free largely in part through the efforts of J. Edgar Hoover.

People haven't really known about the connection between James Earl Ray, that white supremacist,
and Carlos Marcello because the FBI had to cover that up. So in other words an early cover up about
JFK allowed the key assignation to happen; these things were buried so deep it's literally taken
more than 40 years for all of this information to finally start coming out.

ELEANOR HALL: Lamar Waldron, thanks very much for speaking to us.

LAMAR WALDRON: Thank you so much.

ELEANOR HALL: Lamar Waldron is the author of Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK
Assassination. And it if you want to delve deeper into the murky secrets surrounding the JFK
assassination, you'll find an extended version of that interview on our website.

Another round of advice on alcohol set to be served

ELEANOR HALL: People who drink alcohol are confronted with a confusing array of advice about its
effect on their health.

The French National Cancer Institute recently recommended that any amount of alcohol consumption is

But there's also the view that red wine can boost your cardio-vascular health.

This week the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council will dive into the debate
when it releases its much awaited revised guidelines for safe alcohol consumption.

Oscar McLaren filed this report.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Last month there was a national uproar in France when the National Cancer Institute
advised all citizens that drinking any amount of alcohol is harmful to health.

In Australia the National Health and Medical Research Council is gearing up to release its revised
advice on safe levels of drinking.

In doing so, it's entering a mine field of differing opinion.

Cathy Chapman is from the Cancer Council of New South Wales.

CATHY CHAPMAN: You know there is a lot of conflicting reports in the media but we've often got to
think where does the conflict come from? And you know a lot of times when the conflict in the
alcohol research, it's often been promoted by the alcohol industry itself.

So you know, they're very much looking after promoting of their products. I think if you can get to
sort of the heart of what's a good quality research you know we have known for a while that, you
know, drinking alcohol at high levels is not a good thing.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Bruce Armstrong is a professor of public health at the University of Sydney.

He agrees that the evidence is definitive that alcohol consumption increases the risk of some

BRUCE ARMSTRONG: The well known set of cancers that are related to alcohol intake are cancers of
the mouth, larynx or voice box and they are caused by both tobacco and alcohol and the effects of
alcohol and tobacco tend to multiply one another.

There's also evidence that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancer in the liver and
cancer of the rectum. It would be fair to say though for women, the hazard is greatest for breast

OSCAR MCLAREN: But he says there's also strong evidence that drinking can reduce the risk of
cardio-vascular problems, particularly for people in older age groups.

The problem is that those benefits are achieved with only small amounts of alcohol consumption.

BRUCE ARMSTRONG: The maximum benefit is achieved at about half a standard drink a day so you don't
need to drink a lot of alcohol to get those benefits. There's also uncertainty about the extent to
which those benefits are seen in younger people.

OSCAR MCLAREN: And Cathy Chapman points out that drinking is not the only way to ward off heart
attacks and strokes.

CATHY CHAPMAN: We've been hearing a while that alcohol can be good for your heart but that really
is only in small amounts and there's a lot of other things you can do to lower your risk of heart
disease rather than relying on drinking alcohol on a regular basis.

OSCAR MCLAREN: The Cancer Council already has its own expectations for what the new guidelines will

CATHY CHAPMAN: I think we're probably likely to see that they'll recommend about two standard
drinks a day for men and women. We'd like to see a slightly lower recommendation for women of one
standard drink a day. So the Cancer Council recommendation are two standard drinks a day for men
and one standard drink a day for women.

OSCAR MCLAREN: But Professor Bruce Armstrong from Sydney University points out that in a country
known for its robust drinking culture, public health authorities have a big task ahead in providing
a clear message to the public.

BRUCE ARMSTRONG: It will be a challenge in a community where that level of alcohol consumption may
be seen by many to be quite unusual, although in practice, there's a very large portion of
Australians who do not drink more than two drinks a day on average.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Whatever the new guidelines say, the Cancer Council believes that people who simply
drink a glass of wine with dinner can still rest assured.

CATHY CHAPMAN: We don't want those to be the people who worry about how much they're drinking if
they're only having you know one or two glasses a day, but it's those people who are drinking you
know four or five glasses a day and then having a lot more on the weekend, you know, the messages
need to get through to those sorts of people.

ELEANOR HALL: Cathy Chapman from the Cancer Council of New South Wales ending that report from
Oscar McLaren

Australian film suspended after post-movie brawls

ELEANOR HALL: Australian films often struggle at the box office. Now, a promising
Lebanese-Australian film has been pulled from some Sydney's cinemas because of its links to post
screening brawls.

The film, The Combination, debuted last week but Greater Union has suspended it, citing two
incidents in Parramatta.

But the film's director says he's mystified, as the brawls were not racially motivated, and critics
say it's a sad day for the Australian film industry.

Rachael Brown has our report.

(Sounds from film)

RACHAEL BROWN: The Combination is set in Sydney's multicultural western suburbs, a confronting
picture of violence and racism among young Middle Eastern and white Australians, against the
backdrop of the 2005 Cronulla riots.

The Australian film debuted last week but life somewhat reflected art, with violence spilling into
the audience at two sessions in Parramatta.

The cinema chain Greater Union maintains the incidents were not race related but it's suspended the
film anyway at four key locations.

The film's director David Field says he's devastated by the suspension

DAVID FIELD: There's a massive energetic flow towards this film. You know, there may be kids who
don't get on with each other who are going to the cinema, I don't know, but there will be a mass
inflow of young men and women from that area who are going to be excited about the film because
they feel a great ownership toward it because I guess they've never been represented in this way
before, so they've very excited.

RACHAEL BROWN: Greater Union promotions manager Melissa Kesby, explains it didn't have a choice,
saying a security guard ended up in hospital after the first brawl and a staff member was injured
in the second.

MELISSA KESBY: One was a patron smoking inside the cinema who was asked to extinguish the cigarette
before arguing back to the security guard that he wouldn't and flicking the cigarette at him and
then the second one, patrons asking other patrons to be quiet towards the end of the film which
then sparked a bit of an all in brawl.

RACHAEL BROWN: Greater Union is reviewing the suspension today; a decision should be known this

Director David Field says it'd be a shame if some communities missed out on seeing the weighty
issues tackled in the film.

DAVID FIELD: It would make me sad if a lot of groups missed out on it, absolutely. I mean the film
hasn't been pulled from Melbourne or Brisbane so people there can still go and make up their own
minds. And in Sydney there's still some venues through Hoyts and Palace fantastic you know that are
still open, so people will still have the opportunity.

Yeah it would make me greatly sad. I mean, Burwood, George St, Parramatta, Liverpool, these are
kind of real targeted audiences for us where we know the audience have been waiting for the film,
we've had 600 000 hits on the net, so we know that there's an audience there for the film.

Yeah but I don't think it's going to stop us, we'll forward the film if we have to. George and I
have spent seven years on the film, we're not going to go away that easily because we know we've
got something good as well. We know we just don't have some sort of populist film; we've got a film
of real quality that all Australians deserve the right to see.

RACHAEL BROWN: The associate professor of screen studies at Melbourne's RMIT University Deb
Verhoeven says as far as she's aware, it's a first for the Australian Film Industry.

DEB VERHOEVEN: Fights occur all the time in all sorts of public venues like lets think, casinos,
nightclubs, most recently and controversially in the Japanese parliament, but I actually don't see
any of these activities being closed down indefinitely because there's been a fight associated with
those incidences or venues.

I've never heard of a film being withdrawn because an incident has occurred in the proximity of the

RACHAEL BROWN: When you first heard about this did you assume that it did have something to do with
the movie's subject content?

DEB VERHOEVEN: Oh yeah of course, the underlying logic, which no one is actually saying, seems to
be that although the film itself hasn't had anything to do with this, that in fact the audiences

And so it seems to me that there's an underlying presumption that the film is attracting audiences
that the venue operators are uncomfortable in dealing with.

RACHAEL BROWN: That would be pre-disposed to violence?

DEB VERHOEVEN: That does seem to be one assumption you could make from their actions. That in
itself is kind of sad. You know, here we have an Australian film industry that struggles to find an
audience at the best of times. At the moment we've got less than if you take the film Australia out
of the picture, less than one per cent of the box office takings in any given year in Australia are
produced by Australian movies.

So we find it very hard to get local audiences to come along and get enthusiastic about local
films. At last we have a film unfunded by the Government, screening in cinemas, attracting good
audiences, big audiences and suddenly that film has been withdrawn. It seems to indicate a kind of
a discomfort on the part of the venue operators with audiences that are in fact attracted to seeing
films about every day Australian life.

ELEANOR HALL: RMIT University's Deb Verhoeven, ending that report by Rachael Brown.

Shorten urges awareness of our disabled

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities says Australia's treatment of
people with disabilities is a disgrace and a failure of public policy that ranks alongside the
nation's treatment of indigenous people.

Bill Shorten was speaking at the launch of a campaign to help young people who are living in
nursing homes.

It's estimated that 3,500 disabled young people live in nursing homes which are not suited to their

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Grayden Moore is 27 years old. A former junior Australian Open tennis player, his
dreams of turning professional were shattered in a split second when he suffered a catastrophic
skateboarding injury.

Diagnosed with an acquired brain injury, he spent three years in a nursing home where the average
age was 83.

GRAYDEN MOORE: After my first hospital, they sent me to a nursing home instead because they told my
parents I would remain a vegetable for life and never be able to talk or walk again, so any rehab
would be a waste of time and money.

And why did they choose to send me to a nursing home where I was associating with people nearly
triple my age? I don't know why the system would do that to me and fail me like that. Every young
person should get a choice into the place they live and there should be an alternative besides a
nursing home to live at.

ALISON CALDWELL: Grayden Moore was speaking at the launch of a campaign to raise funds from the
public and private sector for young people living in nursing homes.

The Building Better Lives campaign is the brainchild of the Summer Foundation. It wants to raise
$10-million over the next five years.

Speaking at the launch, the Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children, Bill
Shorten, denounced Australia's treatment of people with disabilities as a national failure.

BILL SHORTEN: It is a disgrace of I think the most significant public policy failure. I think it
ranks somewhere near or somewhere alongside, albeit differently, with the treatment of Indigenous

ALISON CALDWELL: Thirty-eight year old Jason Anderson has multiple sclerosis. He considers himself

Facing the prospect of living in a nursing home when his marriage ended, a space became available
for him in an MS house in Williamstown, in Melbourne's inner west.

JASON ANDERSON: In the accommodation that I'm living at, it's pretty much like a pilot I think
because there's a lot of, basically this unit is like our home, my home. So I eat when I want to
eat, I go lie down when I want to lie down, I go out when I want to go out, and that's not the

ALISON CALDWELL: Di Winkler is the CEO of the Summer Foundation. She says there's a significant
risk that funding to develop alternative accommodation options for young people in nursing homes
will stop when the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) funding runs out in 2011.

DI WINKLER: The worst outcome would be at the end of the five years, the Federal Government says
we've had a go at this, we've actually, you've had your turn and that they don't continue this
initiative and then I think 70 people in Victoria will continue to be admitted to age care every
year unless we make sure that doesn't happen.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Di Winkler from the Summer Foundation ending that report by Alison Caldwell.

New shark attack sparks political frenzy

ELEANOR HALL: Sydney's third shark attack in as many weeks has prompted the New South Wales
Opposition to accuse the State Government of not doing enough to protect swimmers.

The Opposition says shark nets are in urgent need of repair and that more aerial shark patrols
should be funded.

But the Government says the measures proposed by the Opposition would not have made any difference
in the three recent attacks and is calling on swimmers to do more to protect themselves.

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: Just before 7am yesterday morning 15-year-old Andrew Lindop, who was out surfing at
Avalon Beach, was bitten on the leg by a shark.

It was the third such attack in three weeks.

A Navy diver lost a hand and a leg after being attacked in the early morning by a bull shark in
Sydney Harbour on February 11th.

And just a day later a 33-year-old surfer nearly lost his hand after a great white attacked him at
dusk off Bondi.

The New South Wales Opposition says the spate of attacks should serve as a wake-up call to the

Duncan Gay is the Opposition spokesman for Industry.

DUNCAN GAY: It would be petty and wrong to hold a minister responsible for every shark attack that
happens. What we believe that where the minister is responsible is that he hasn't done everything
possible to mitigate the possibility of shark attacks.

BARBARA MILLER: And what do you think he should do?

DUNCAN GAY: Well the things where he hasn't been engaged is the proper maintenance of the shark
nets, a lack of funding in the patrols to alert people and he removed the quota on catching of
sharks. Now these sort of things won't entirely remove shark attacks, but they're there to lessen
the odds.

BARBARA MILLER: But the State Government rejects the allegations.

The Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald says the attacks were highly unusual, random

He told ABC's News Radio that measures such as increased aerial patrols would not make any

IAN MACDONALD: We have not been funding these aircraft or aerial surveillance to any great degree
because we believe that it's not value for money. The more value for money is people avoiding
swimming at times when sharks are feeding. That is early in the morning and late at night and they
are times at which having aircraft up over Sydney is something that would be opposed by residents
for instance coming along the beaches early in the morning and secondly the conditions would be
such they wouldn't spot very much.

BARBARA MILLER: The attack at Avalon Beach came just as competitors were warming up for the Sydney
Harbour Swim Classic.

A record 888 people registered for the swim this year.

The event's director Adam Wilson says there was no increased risk.

ADAM WILSON: You know there's sharks always going to be out there. If the shark nets have holes in
them and the Government has got money to fix shark nets, yeah defiantly fix them up. But I mean
really, I mean these are extraordinary situations, I don't think sharks are coming in and preying
on beaches or doing what that film Jaws showed was to happen.

You've obviously got to be aware of, but I don't think you need to jump to conclusions and make
sure that, hey we've got helicopters flying above beaches all day. No, I think that's just a waste
of money. For the last 50,100 years we've been using these beaches and it's a rare occurrence, but
again it's the road rules; don't go early, don't go late.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think that these swimmers who were attacked early and late in the day were
to some extent responsible?

ADAM WILSON: Look, I wouldn't say they're responsible; they've obviously been caught in
consequences that have been outside of anybody's control. You know, people surf every day, morning
and night, there's sometimes the best surf is at the morning or sometimes it's early at night.

But you've got to be prepared that your chances go up. That there are going to be, it is the
feeding time of the sharks and these are the more risky times to go surfing.

Hey listen, if the surf is fantastic and you have to go have an early surf at six o'clock in the
morning, well you might get a good wave but you might also get your leg chopped.

BARBARA MILLER: Fifteen year-old Andrew Lindop is said to be in good spirits in hospital following
an operation on his wounded leg.

Photographs of the wound are being examined today to try and find out what type of shark attacked

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.